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Huawei unveils its vision for a true agile network

Derek du Preez | Nov. 13, 2013
Huawei has unveiled its strategy to deliver a true agile network to the enterprise – one which that looks at the enterprise as a whole and is able to adjust easily depending on a user's need, location and device.

Huawei has unveiled its strategy to deliver a true agile network to the enterprise - one which looks at the enterprise as a whole and is able to adjust easily depending on a user's need, location and device.

The Chinese networking giant unveiled a new set of switches at Gartner's Symposium in Barcelona this week to support this vision, which use a fully programmable fabric architecture and supports rapid customisation

Huawei enterprise architect Steven Harrison was speaking at the event and explained that most enterprise networks won't be able to deal with the disruptive changes that are happening in the IT industry - thanks to developments in mobile, cloud, big data, social and the internet of things.

"Are your networks ready for this? Most of the networks installed today are not, they are woefully unsuited to dealing with this new kind of traffic," he said.

"We think it's time to redefine the network - this is what we call the agile network. What we are talking about here is that the campus [an enterprise as a whole - regardless of location] has a big role to play in the future of networking."

He added: "We can have a great cloud data centre, we can have fabulous connectivity, but ultimately this needs to drill down into the campus network if it's going to work. The funny thing with the cloud, is that the cloud doesn't work unless the network that brings you to the cloud does."

Harrison described the future agile network in three layers. Firstly enterprises will need a 'network brain', which is an intelligent controller that will manage all of the network resources, or services. The 'brain' will be able to distinguish the difference between a video conference and a laptop back-up, for example, and allocate network resources accordingly.

Secondly, the network needs agile switches, according to Huawei. Harrison said: "Why do we need switches to be agile? Because we are going to start encountering new types of traffic, new protocols, new technologies, which we have never seen before.

"Do we want to forklift the network every time a new app comes out? That's not very efficient, we need to manage our total cost of ownership better."

Finally, Harrison argued that companies need to have a 'zero configuration edge'. Huawei defines this as a network that allows employees to access services on any device they are using, at any location - whether that be on a mobile, on a laptop, on a tablet; in the office, in a car, or at home.

Huawei believes this vision for an agile network requires a number of innovations. The first of which is allowing administrators to look at the network as a whole - one logical device. "What if I could have one point of administration? One point of configuration for my entire campus, one wireless access point, that's one of the innovations behind the agile network," said Harrison.

 

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